Either this is late, or I’m early for next Christmas

Armoring Up For The Christmas Season

Author’s note: You can see by the date of this posting that it’s after Christmas. I wrote it two weeks before Christmas, but got caught up in the battle myself. I think I’m coming out on the other side. Hope to see you there.

Have you ever noticed that Christmas can be the toughest time of year for some people? Maybe it is for you, or maybe you know someone who struggles mightily during this time of year. I think Charles Schultz knew what he was talking about when he gave Charlie Brown those words with Lucy in the epic “Merry Christmas Charlie Brown” television special. In it Charlie Brown, talking to Lucy, the psychiatrist, (“5cents please”) says he knows how he’s supposed to be happy and filled with holiday cheer, but he just can’t seem to get in the spirit. He just doesn’t feel it.

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I had a little bit of that this year so I can relate. Within my group of friends in the past year one had a child who had to have multiple surgeries within a very short period of time (the first one was expected, the rest were not), another had lost a beloved family member and was doing the hard work of grief pretty much everyday of the year, another had a sudden job transfer with her husband and had to relocate across the country, and while that’s not in and of itself a bad thing, it involved all kinds of inherent logistical details (new doctors for her kids who have special needs, new housing, new friends, getting the kids settled, setting up a new household, new church, etc…..). Another was fired from her job do to “downsizing” and had absolutely NO job prospects. Another had a sister diagnosed with recurring breast cancer. Another had yet ANOTHER very tough year with a chronically ill/medically fragile child. And another had a difficult relationship with a parent. So, while my friends were going through all this, and while we were also adjusting to a brand new life in a brand new place (we moved in March of this year to be closer to my husband’s family. A move absolutely ordained by God, but not always a walk in the park for everyone involved), I really began to “get” how tough the holiday season can be for people and why they just want to get through them and get them and put the whole thing in the rear view mirror.

That of course got me to wondering “why”? Why is the time from mid-November through the first part of January so tough? I’d like to offer the supposition that there are two reasons for this. First, I think it is because we as humans are constantly going through “stuff”. Life IS messy. It IS hard, at times. We MUST, if we hope to survive, battle our feelings (which change from minute to minute, or sometimes just go from dark to darker) amid this season that is marked with JOY, which is often completely opposite from what we’re feeling. Joy in the fact that Jesus WAS born to every single person on earth to save us, Joy in the fact that God DOES love us more than we can imagine, and JOY that there IS hope in God. Our human eyes and hearts may not always see or feel the joy, but it’s there because God put it there.

Secondly I think the Christmas and New Year’s season can be tough and emotionally confusing because the enemy, Satan, is HARD at work during this time of year. For those of you who don’t have a personal relationship with God, the devil wants to keep it that way and he’ll do anything and everything within his power to do so. He’s not called the Prince Of Darkness for nothing. He DOES roam the earth trying to destroy all of us. If you do have a relationship with God, the enemy’s agenda is the same (to destroy your life), only with the added flair of trying to make you doubt your relationship with God at the same time so he can neutralize you in the spiritual battle. And here’s the big not-so-secret about the enemy: he’ll use the circumstances of our lives to beat us down and make us feel horrible about our lot in life. Ever been fired or let go from a job? The enemy will use the truths of those circumstances to not make you want to get out of bed, ever again, much less get back in the saddle and look for a job. He’ll start with stripping you of your confidence and God-given talents and go from there (think of a piranha stripping a creature to the bone in three seconds flat). Ever have a child rebel and go off on his/her own for any period of time? The enemy will use every mistake you made as a parent and rub your face in it till your heart is raw and you’ve given up hope. Ever lost a child to death? The enemy wants to turn you into a walking zombie for the rest of your life with grief so overwhelming you don’t think it’s worth living anymore and you become a shell of the person you once were. Ever turn on the tv and see the news of innocent babies slaughtered for no reason? The enemy wants you to think that the world is thoroughly dangerous and not safe for anyone. Ever. Were you abused, neglected or did you grow up in a dysfunctional family? The enemy wants you to seek acceptance and love through everything and anything here on earth, anything but God. Control by fear. Control by grief. Control by failure. Control by addiction. Control by defeat.

We ARE in a spiritual battle. The GREAT news is that when you let God into your corner of the universe, there IS hope that in Him and Him alone, that you will make it through your circumstance and come out on the other side of it closer to God and deeper in spiritual wisdom (by the way, it’s never a matter of “finding God”–He’s never lost, He’s right next to you wanting to embrace you the nano-second you reach out to Him). You weren’t created to go through this life without Him. He created you and He wants to live within you. He cherishes each and every one of us far too deeply to let us go through all the human events of accidents, disease, babies dying, divorce and people hurting each other just to hurt each other, by ourselves. Throughout the Bible (Old & New Testaments) there are numerous examples of how God has been grieved and hurt when we hurt. It’s not His will by any stretch that parents abuse their parental authority, or that children die, or that children rebel and turn to destructive things for acceptance and love, or that disease fall onto wonderful loving people. But when it does, no matter what time of year, God is right here for us. I think at Christmas our wounds easily bubble up to the surface.

If you’re reading this and you’re not in a relationship with God this may seem so Pollyana-ish. So simplistic. So ridiculous. I can tell you that walking with God is NOT chanting mantras of “such-and-such is happening, but it’s all going to be fine because Jesus loves me. Ahhhhhhh.” That’s Biblical heresy. But walking with God is putting your faith in Him that He has the bigger picture in mind for our lives AS we go through “stuff” here on earth. He does provide relief, love, and sanity while we’re IN the middle of life’s junk. NO WHERE in the Bible does it EVER say or imply that people who put their faith in God will not experience being fired, being divorced, growing up in crappy homes, or experiencing untold tragedy. What it DOES say over and over and over, is that WITH God you can have hope of getting through it and that He will NEVER, EVER leave your side. EVER. If you’re one of the walking wounded this Christmas season I hope you’ll try to remember that. I know I will.

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